Founded in 2003, MUIXIL (Mujeres Sufridas de Area Ixil, Women Sufferers from Ixil) is a collective of women in the region of Ixil, encompassing the municipalities of Santa Maria Nebaj, San Gaspar Chajul and San Juan Cotzal. Its vision is to be an organisation with the political and technical capacity to promote comprehensive development to defend the human rights and values of indigenous women in the region of Ixil, particularly those who are survivors of the war.
MUIXIL's mission is to strive for economic, political, and cultural development and the values of indigenous Ixil women. Its focus is on gender, civic participation, peace, and the development of productive projects to eradicate extreme poverty and guarantee food security in indigenous communities. These projects include a weaving collective and a small-scale chicken farming initiative.
With regard to peacebuilding, MUIXIL helps to preserve historical memory, provides psychosocial counselling to affected women, and accompanies women seeking restitution and recognition of their human rights on visits to local and regional institutions of government. It also conducts capacity building workshops on political participation at the local indigenous communities to raise awareness of the importance of voting, and of women participating in politics to rebuild and create peaceful communities.
One example of a MUIXIL success story involves Senora Teresa, an indigenous Ixil woman who was a victim of the armed conflict in Guatemala during the 1980s. Before 1980, she lived in a peaceful village in Chajul with her family. One day, the army arrived and burned the houses and massacred the families living in the village. Among those executed that day were the parents and siblings of Teresa. She was left alone, never to see and know her family again. She was internally displaced along with other residents of her village who had managed to escape and save their lives. She survived in the mountains of Amajchel y k’ab’a de Chajul.
Four years later, at the age of 11, she was walking on the mountain with a group of other girls, looking for herbs to eat. She was captured by soldiers and taken to a military station, where she was given scraps of food and mistreated verbally and physically, assumed to be the daughter of guerrillas. She was kept as a sex slave.
Teresa suffered physical trauma from the violence she endured during the armed conflict. Through her participation in various forms of psychosocial conselling carried out by MUIXIL she has been able to participate in social activities. She has helped to form an advisor committee for survivors of the conflict in the region of Ixil. Many women need and deserve attention but government officials have not attended to their cases and to the women who were sexually abused during the war. MUIXIL’s productive projects and capacity-building activities have benefited Ixil women like Teresa, and are available to other women in the region.